Roasted garlic, sometimes referred to as garlic confit, is a powerful ingredient that can add tremendous flavor to any dish. Raw garlic has a strong, pungent flavor that needs to be used in moderation. While you don’t want to go overboard with roasted garlic, either, its flavor is much sweeter and milder: It makes a wonderful addition to sauces and dips and is even tasty by itself (try spreading some on a toasted baguette).
This article demonstrates three techniques for roasting garlic:
- Roasting whole heads of garlic in the oven
- Roasting individual cloves of garlic in the oven
- Roasting individual cloves of garlic on the stovetop
Roast whole heads of garlic in the oven
The most common method is to roast the entire head of garlic in the oven. Most recipes recommend wrapping the heads in aluminum foil, which works very well, especially when roasting multiple heads at a time. To roast a single head of garlic, I prefer using a ramekin because it’s less messy and easier to preserve the leftover olive oil.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Peel the excess paper layers from the head without separating the cloves. Carefully slice off the top of the head so the individual cloves are exposed.
- Place the garlic in a small ramekin (or on a piece of foil) and drizzle extra virgin olive oil liberally on top. Sprinkle with salt (this is optional but will really enhance the flavor).
- Cover the ramekin with foil and place in the oven. Check the garlic after 40 minutes. The cloves should be soft and slightly browned. At this point, you can remove the garlic from the oven or let it roast for an additional 5 to 15 minutes to further caramelize it.
The longer the garlic roasts in the oven, the more caramelized and flavorful it will become. The above picture shows garlic that has been roasted for about 55 minutes; you don’t want to push the caramelization very far beyond this point or it will develop a bitter flavor.
Roast individual cloves of garlic in the oven:
Sometimes, an entire head of garlic isn’t required for a recipe, so you can also roast individual cloves using the same method.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Separate the garlic into individual cloves and remove the excess layers of papery skin, leaving a single layer intact.
- Slice both ends off each garlic clove, exposing a small part of the clove through the skin on each end.
- Place the cloves in a small ramekin, and drizzle them with olive oil and salt. Cover with foil.
- Roast until the ends of the cloves are slightly browned and soft. This will take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the cloves.
Roast individual cloves of garlic on the stovetop:
The final method for roasting garlic is the fastest. Instead of roasting them in the oven, you can gently cook the individual cloves in a small sauté pan. This method is especially useful when you’re in a hurry.
- Separate the garlic into individual cloves. Remove the excess layers of papery skin, slice both ends off each garlic clove and peel away the remaining layer of skin.
- Place the garlic in a sauté pan and add an equal amount of olive oil. So, if you’re roasting 1/2 cup of garlic cloves, add 1/2 cup of olive oil.
- Place on the stovetop, and turn the heat to medium. Once the oil begins to gently simmer, turn the heat down to low so the oil is just barely bubbling. Cook the garlic, stirring frequently, until it is soft and slightly browned on all sides. Depending on the size of the cloves, this can take anywhere from 5 to 25 minutes.
Note: After the garlic is roasted, don’t discard the remaining olive oil! It’s delicious. Use it in any savory application where garlic is a welcome addition, such as vinaigrettes, roasted vegetables or sauces. This is true for all three roasting techniques.
Photo credit: Jennifer Farley